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Today's Prompt:

Four men in thick, black winter coats stand in a circle in the snowy expanse, waiting. The air is perfectly still as they wait beneath the grey overcast sky. It's a lifeless clearing but for the four men, black silhouettes contrasting against the pristine snow.

The bulkiest silhouette belongs to a bear of a man, his enormous hands buried in his coat pockets as his his balding head sinks into his shoulders to brace against the cold. He stares straight ahead with an impenetrable expression as the thin man to his left lights a cigarette. His greying hair and blood red scarf give him an air of dangerous sophistication. Standing across him is the youngest of the four, his teeth chattering as he impatiently rubs his hands together for warmth. His pained breaths are the only thing anyone can hear. The fourth man is the only who doesn't seem bothered by the cold. He stands up straight and holds his black-gloved hands in front of him, his face almost as pale as the snow around him. Unlike the three other men, there are no misty clouds emanating from his mouth and nose, as if he wasn't breathing at all.

They stand. They wait.

Finally, a fifth figure emerges from the jagged trees at the edge of the clearing. He slowly approaches the circle of men, methodically stepping through the ankle-high snow, each footstep accompanied by a slow crunch.

As he approaches, the red-scarfed man and the pale man take a few steps to the side to make room for the newcomer. He takes his place between the men and takes a moment. He looks as though he is considering what he is about to say, weighing the consequences and making his peace with it. He is older than the other men, far older than he ever thought he would live to see.

“Well?” The young man snaps.

The older man glares at him until the young man breaks eye contact and looks down to the ground. He then slowly turns to large man, awaiting permission to speak. The bear gives him the slightest of nods.

“He was. “Uncooperative.”

The temperature seems to drop a degree at these words and an ominous howl rises in the distance as wind begins blowing through the trees. The red-scarfed man takes another drag of his cigarette as the bear looks ahead with that impenetrable expression again. Those who know him know this is how he looks when he's thinking, when he's considering the possibilities, mapping out all the outcomes.

“So that's it, right?” The young man impatiently pipes up again. This time it is the red-scarfed man who puts him back in place with just a look. He flicks his cigarette at him, daring him to speak up again, and it bounces off his coat. The young man wipes the ash off his coat and says nothing.

“He's right though, isn't he?” The red-scarfed says to the bear. The bear stays still a moment longer then sighs. He takes a a hand out of his pocket and rubs his forehead and for a moment everyone can see just how tired he is. Though nobody says anything.

Then the bear nods.

The red-scarfed man turns to the pale man.

“Anton.” The pale man looks up at him. The red-scarfed man shivers and he's not sure if it's from the cold or from that look.

“It's curtains. Get it done.”

Anton nods.

“Meeting adjourned.”

The five men turn and walk away, all in different directions. They disappear back into the trees. The footsteps in the snow remain as the only sign that anyone was ever there. And that was that.

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